Pension decisions in a changing economy: Gender, structure, and choice

M. A. Hardy, K. Shuey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objectives. As responsibility for financial security in retirement becomes more individualized, understanding the distribution and determinants of savings behavior grows in importance. Employed men and women often gain access to their pension assets when they change jobs. In this study gender differences in pre-retirement access to and disposition of accumulated pension assets are examined. Methods. The authors used data from the Health and Retirement Study to model pension participation, disposition of pension assets, and use of cash settlements derived from a pension plan in a previous job. Logit models provided estimates of gender differences in access to pensions and the preservation of pension funds for retirement. Results. Women were less likely to have participated in employer-sponsored pension plans; more likely to cash out accumulated pension assets when they changed jobs; and, when job changes occurred at relatively young ages, equally likely to spend the settlement. However, by their late 40s, women were more likely to save the settlement, a net gender difference that increased with age at which the settlement was received. Discussion. The structure of employment compensation continues to place women at a disadvantage. Gender differences in earnings and fringe benefits not only affect current financial status, but also cast a shadow over future financial security. Although the gender gap in pension coverage has been reduced, women with pensions have access to lower benefits and less in accumulated assets. As these continuing deficits are addressed, enhancing women's tendency to save pension assets for retirement can help them build financial security.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S271-S277
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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